January 22, 2021
Media Contact: Larry Hill, Eastern Region PIO, 757-683-9175, firstname.lastname@example.org
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CLOSES A PORTION OF THE JAMES RIVER TO SHELLFISH HARVESTING
(RICHMOND, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of the James River and selected tributaries will remain closed to shellfish harvesting through February 3, 2021. Oyster sampling efforts made in an attempt to support an early reopening were unsuccessful and these results require an extension of the emergency closure duration.
Water quality samples of bacteria have returned to normal, however, VDH is recommending using caution near creeks, inlets, or canals where there is low flushing of water and along shorelines and beaches in the area impacted by the sewage release.
Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis. In addition, the Virginia Department of Health urges the public to minimize exposure to the water by rinsing or washing items that come into contact with the water, including fishing gear, life vests, ropes and paddles. If you accidentally ingest the water, health officials recommend drinking plenty of fresh water.
A map of the affected area is posted on the Division of Shellfish Safety’s home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/Shellfish/. The affected shellfish are filter-feeding bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.
For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/faq/.